Why Is The Media Hiding The Worsening U.S.-China Trade Deficit?

Includes: FXI
by: Howard Richman

Why is the American media misinforming the American people about the worsening U.S.-China trade deficit? The graph below shows the actual trade deficit, with a 12 month moving average:

In February, the U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China worsened to another 12 month record, falling to $321 billion over the last 12 months. In 2012, the U.S. had a service trade surplus with China of $17 billion, so the U.S. trade deficit with China in goods and services is now about $304 billion as compared to $298 billion at the end of 2012 and $280 billion at the end of 2011.

Yet the mainstream media all reported that the U.S. trade deficit with China improved in February, ignoring the fact that it is always lowest at this time of the year. Here's a sample:

  • New York Times: "The deficit with China shrank to $23.4 billion, the lowest point in 11 months."

  • BloombergBusnessweek: "Demand for American-made goods in markets such as China and Latin America also may keep growing, cushioning the crisis in Europe and limiting the trade gap.... The trade gap with China was the smallest in almost a year".

  • Reuters: "U.S. imports from China fell in February to their lowest level in nearly a year. The bilateral U.S. trade gap with China narrowed to $23.4 billion, also the lowest since March 2012."

So why are they all misleading the American people? In one of the articles that reported this misleading information, Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press explained the context:

For all of 2012, the trade deficit with China increased to $315.1 billion, the largest imbalance ever recorded with a single country. The high deficits with China are adding pressure on the Obama administration to take a harder line on China's trade practices. Some U.S. manufacturers contend that China keeps the value of its currency artificially low to make its exports to the U.S. cheaper.

There are several possibilities. The simplest being that these reporters all crib their stories from each other. After one reporter wrote that the trade deficit with China shrank, the others followed suit.

Another possibility is that they are in campaign mode, and, like the D-Day planners who hid the Normandy location with a bodyguard of lies, they are hiding the Obama administration's incompetence with a bodyguard of lies.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.